Safety tips for parents of trick-or-treaters

SIOUX CITY — The experts say parents should warn their kids to be careful when handling a common Halloween accessory.

Tammy Noble, a registered nurse and educator at the Iowa Poison Control Center, says the directions on glow sticks emphasize they are not to be cut or punctured. “Sometimes we see kids break those,” Noble says. “They put them in their mouth. They might bite into it or sometimes even when they’re trying to open it and make it start glowing, it somehow will break and they can get the liquid splashed in their eyes.”

While it’s important to stay visible during the nighttime candy runs, it’s also important to avoid hazards. The chemicals in glow sticks can be a problem if they splash a kid’s face. “It’s really irritating to the eyes,” Noble says. “You need to irrigate the eyes really well for 15-20 minutes. But also, if they get it in their mouth, it stings and usually that will go away within an hour. Just wipe out the mouth and give them a little something to drink.”

If the stinging persists longer than an hour, she suggests calling the poison center. On another Halloween topic, Noble say to be selective if you’re buying make-up or face paints.  “You want to make sure that you’re looking for something that is listed to be non-toxic,” Noble says. “Anything that looks old and maybe doesn’t smell right or doesn’t look right, just throw it away. It’s probably best not to keep it year after year after year. And you do want to test it on the skin beforehand.”

In fact, she says to test those colors on the skin 48 hours before trick-or-treating, just to be on the safe side. Some newer costumes light up and will come with a small battery pack to power those lights, which Noble says may also present a hazard. “We have to be very careful because sometimes those costumes contain a button battery,” Noble says. “Those types of little round, like the size of a small coin, like a dime, those could be swallowed and kids that could get it stuck in their esophagus.”

Those batteries could cause internal burns if swallowed. Noble recommends kids wait until they get home to open their treats so parents can inspect the goodies for any signs of tampering.

The Sioux City-based Poison Control Center Hotline is available around-the-clock at 800-222-1222.